Chorioamnionitis is a condition that can affect
pregnant women in which the chorion and amnion (the membranes that surround the
fetus) and the amniotic fluid (in which the fetus floats) are infected by
bacteria. This can lead to infection in both the mother and fetus, and, in most
cases means the fetus has to be delivered as soon as possible.
What are the causes of chorioamnionitis?
Chorioamnionitis is caused by a bacterial infection that usually starts in
the motherís urogenital tract. Specifically, the infection can start in the
vagina, anus, or rectum and move up into the uterus where the fetus is located.
Chorioamnionitis occurs in up to 2 percent of births in the United States.
What are the risk factors for chorioamnionitis?
Certain factors might create a higher risk for chorioamnionitis, including:
- Premature birth
- Fetal membranes that are ruptured (the water has broken) for a
What are the symptoms of chorioamnionitis?
Although chorioamnionitis does not always cause symptoms, some women with the
infection might have the following:
- High temperature and fever
- Rapid heartbeat (The fetus might also have a rapid heartbeat.)
- A uterus that is tender to the touch
- A discharge from the vagina that has an unusual smell
How is chorioamnionitis diagnosed?
Chorioamnionitis is most often diagnosed by physical exam and the findings
listed above. Other clues can be found by taking a blood sample from the mother
and checking for bacteria. In addition, the doctor might take samples of the
amniotic fluid to look for bacteria. The doctor might also use ultrasound to
check on the health of the fetus.
How is chorioamnionitis treated?
If your doctor diagnoses chorioamnionitis, he or she will treat you with
antibiotics to help to treat the infection. However, the treatment is to deliver
the fetus. In addition, if the newborn has an infection, he or she will be given
antibiotics, as well.
What are the complications of chorioamnionitis?
If the mother has a serious case of chorioamnionitis, or if it goes
untreated, she might develop complications, including:
- Infections in the pelvic region and abdomen
- Endometritis (an infection of the endometrium, the lining of
- Blood clots in the pelvis and lungs
The newborn might also have complications from a bacterial infection, including
sepsis (infection of the blood), meningitis (infection of the lining of the
brain and the spinal cord), and respiratory problems.
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